Tallinn city government to approve new alcohol restrictions

A cocktail being made at a bar. Photo is illustrative.
A cocktail being made at a bar. Photo is illustrative. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Tallinn city government is to approve new restrictions on Wednesday that will restrict the sale of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, pubs and other entertainment establishments beginning June 1, 2020.

The bill to be introduced to Tallinn City Council will implement the following restrictions: the retail sale of alcohol to be consumed on site will be prohibited overnight from 2-6 a.m. ahead of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and overnight from 3-7 a.m. ahead of Saturdays and Sundays.

These restrictions will not apply to the nights ahead of Jan. 1, Feb. 25 or June 24 (i.e. on New Year's Eve, Independence Day or Midsummer's Eve, respectively).

The letter of explanation accompanying the bill notes that cutting off the sales of alcoholic beverages at 2 a.m. on worknights and 3 a.m. on weekend nights gives people plenty of time to enjoy themselves at entertainment establishments.

"Reasonable consumers of alcohol have already stopped consuming alcohol by that time, and the forcible cutting off of alcohol consumption will be beneficial to the health and behavior of less reasonable consumers," the letter reads.

Exception for hotels, casinos

The new restrictions will apply to the economic activity of businesses within the City of Tallinn involved in the retail sale of alcohol for consumption on site. They will not extend to points of sale located within areas of Tallinn Airport and the Port of Tallinn restricted only to passengers for international travel, points of sale in the lobbies of accommodation establishments, in the rooms thereof, or points of sale located in legally licensed gambling establishments.

The letter of explanation notes that the implementation of these restrictions is based on the need to improve public order, maintenance and public health in city, to change young people's values, to ensure the privacy of homes, to strike a balance between the rights and interests of various individuals and interest groups, as well as to maintain the value of Tallinn as a tourist destination.

"The economic activity of entertainment establishments (bars, nightclubs, pubs, etc.) that operate late at night falls under food services according to the Trading Act, but in reality, their primary activity is the sale of alcoholic beverages and the provision of entertainment (music, DJs, performers)," the letter reads. "The majority of catering establishments such as restaurants and cafes typically close at midnight or 1 a.m., and so the restrictions to be implemented by this regulation will not affect their activity."

Cited as problematic in the letter is the fact that entertainment establishments' late-night activity often means that the music being played can be heard in the apartments located in the same building or out on the street.

"The entertainment establishment doesn't respond to residents' complaints (for example doesn't answer their calls, or calls back only the next day), or responds, but doesn't fully resolve the problem, and the resident complains again the next night, week or month," the letter reads. "The music is turned down when the police show up, but after the police have left, it is turned back up again."

Alcohol still available late at night

There are currently 182 establishments in Tallinn that sell alcohol for on-site consumption after midnight, 131 of which are located in Central Tallinn. Alcohol can be purchased for on-site consumption at 85 establishments in Tallinn, 65 of which are located in Central Tallinn. Alcohol can be purchased for on-site consumption around the clock at eight establishments in Tallinn, four of which are located in the central city district.

Once approved by the city government, the new restrictions on alcohol sales must also be passed by the city council.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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